Tower Arch – Arches NP

Moab, UT

For today’s hiking adventure we decided to go into Arches National Park and re-do a hike we did three years ago with Steve and Joan (FOSJ) to Tower Arch.   We drove out Arches Scenic Drive almost to the end and turned south (left) on to a dirt road called Salt Valley Road, a smooth road suitable for any vehicle.  After about seven miles there are two turns to the left very near each other.  We took the second left and drove about a half mile to the trailhead.

The drive through Arches is always stunning

This hike is rated as moderately difficult.  The most difficult part is the first quarter mile, which goes steeply through the rocks up the side of a bluff.  Last time we did this hike we got a bit confused in this section, but now the trail is clearly marked with large cairns.

The trail flattens out a bit at the top of the bluff

When we finished climbing up the bluff, we immediately hiked down into a valley which was followed by a couple steep climbs up deep, sandy dunes,  which really got the blood flowing!

After about a mile and a half we entered a sandstone rock area that indicated we were nearing our destination, Tower Arch.  Soon the “tower” part came into view.

It wasn’t long before we got a clear view of both the tower and the arch.

Tower Arch

The view from inside the arch

We did a bit of rock scrambling to get up on a ledge behind the arch.

The view from above and behind the arch

Some hikers we spoke with said that if you climbed up a steep rock fin behind the arch there were some neat things to see.

The rocky fin above the arch

Always ready for a challenge, up the fin we went!

The nimble hiker performed magnificently on the ascent, although there was some nervous shaking going on!  Once up that fin we had to climb down a shorter one into a small area.  After exploring that area a bit we decided not to go up any further and began the trip down.  But first we had to go up the shorter fin, which required some “reverse crab walking”.

Then, we headed back down that same steep fin, mostly sliding on our butts.

Once back down below the arch a narrow slot led us back to the trail.

Just a short distance from the big arch is a smaller, but interesting, arch.  All the hikers we saw were so fixated on Tower Arch that they never saw this little beauty nearby.

We missed the main trail coming back and had to do some bushwhacking using the backpacker app on our phone,  But we managed to get back on the trail and down to the Jeep without much difficulty.

The return drive through the park provided more scenic views.

The Skyline Arch in the distance

The snowy La Sal Mountains come into view

Another great adventure in the land of the red rocks!  The nimble hiker will sleep well tonight!

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40 Responses to Tower Arch – Arches NP

  1. explorvistas says:

    Beautiful scenery! What app are you using on your phones?

  2. Sue says:

    Thanks for taking us along on your adventure. Most of us will not see those sights so we appreciate you blazing the trail and photographing your progress! Great pictures by the way!
    Sleep tight Nimble Hiker……

  3. Laurel says:

    Awesome hike and gorgeous scenery! Love the photo looking through the arch. But if that rock fin is as steep as it looks in your photos, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to tackle it.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Oh, my, now that looks like my kinda hike! As much as I would LOVE to scramble up that fin, I get a little weak-kneed seeing you come back down. What fun!

  5. Nancy says:

    Great memories from our visit last year!
    You both are strong hikers! I am impressed!

  6. Becky says:

    What a great hike. Fantastic to see you enjoying another great year in Moab!

  7. pmbweaver says:

    Awesome header photo!

    You two could write a guide on these hikes…turn left, go half a mile, look for the big boulder…hehe Good job!

    Good grief…you two had me on the edge of my chair. Never in this life time will you find us doing that fin! I love seeing the arches and the red rock. But, please be careful!!!

  8. Lenore says:

    I can just imagine the nimble hiker whacking those dry thorny bushes with her phone.

  9. Full body workout! I LOVE scrambling on the fins!

  10. Very impressive! I had the heebee jeebees looking at the height of the fin, but I would have tried it. Coming down would have been the challenge. Great hike.

  11. montanaclarks says:

    That was some kind of hike! We are heading your way a week from today.

  12. The butt sliding I could do, but not so sure about that reverse crab walking! And you guys didn’t do Angel’s Landing. Believe me, with the chains to hold on to, it was much easier than what you did on that hike! Great photos.

    • placestheygo says:

      The climb up to Angel’s Landing never worried us. It was the crowd that one has around them during the climb. The passing on a narrow ledge with only chains that are tough for the passers to hang on to is a little troublesome. It was the passing on ledges that caused the last five women to fall. We were all alone on the fins:)

  13. geogypsy2u says:

    I’d much rather climb rock than sand, my preference being up not down. Funny how people focus on the “feature” and miss so much else.

  14. girlonahike says:

    This is one hike I haven’t actually done in ANP! – Alicia @ http://www.girlonahike.com

  15. Penny says:

    Awesome! Looking forward to seeing that country!

  16. Jeff says:

    Like most others I had no idea such treasure awaited beyond Tower Arch. Thanks for taking us along, as I’m not sure Id want to do that challenge now 🙂

  17. Gay says:

    I love that hike…minus the deep sandy part. But you are right about it getting the heart pumping. We have never scrambled up the fin behind the arch, but have played in the fins that go to the 4×4 trail….so much fun!

  18. Sherry says:

    Ah arches. So really wonderful. Music to my ears ” smooth road suitable for any vehicle”. Looks like a wonderful hike but up that fin? Well maybe up but it’s the coming back down part that always bothers me more. You guys must have suction cups on your shoes. Glad you found the other arch too. Really lovely. If you lost your way I’d better get that backpacker app and learn how to use it before we head west.

  19. Jodee Gravel says:

    Beautiful pics! Love the colors and textures, and the incredible variety. The fin? Oh. Hell. No. I had to hold on to the arm of the chair as you were ascending! But what a grand adventure for both of you 🙂

  20. Pam says:

    My kind of day! Just watch out for mountain lions we did see tracks near there and also near the birthing scene rock on the outskirts of Moab.

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